Release 97-34

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            CONTACT:         Jerry Martin
November 14, 1997                                                                                         Allan Hirsch
                                                                                                                        (916) 322-2990

ARB Approves 1998 Hotspots Fees

        SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) today approved toxic hotspots fees for recovering state costs and to fund seven California air pollution control districts that requested the state to set fees for their programs to control toxic air contaminants.

        ARB Chairman John Dunlap said, "The success of this program can be determined by noting that more than 1,000 facilities have reduced their emissions far enough during the past year to be removed from any fee requirements. In addition, the program has become more efficient and allowed the ARB to cut program operating costs by 35 percent from last year's levels."

        The fees for the 1998 program total $1.35 million down from last year's $2 million operating costs. Those fees are used to monitor emissions and pursue control strategies that will reduce facilities to levels considered safe. The reductions from last year reflect scale backs in the program as facilities clean up their emissions and are released from the program.

        While more than 1,000 facilities have been removed from the program, those remaining in the program are likely to be assessed higher fees according to the toxicity of the compounds they handle and their proximity to residential areas. For example, industrywide facilities such as gasoline service stations and dry cleaners, which are now contributing a larger portion of the overall risk, will pay fees of $25 per year up from the former $15 per year assessment fee.

        "The program is operating as the Legislature intended," Dunlap added. "As more facilities comply with the program, emissions will continue to drop."

         The fees apply in the seven air quality districts that participate in the ARB program: South Coast and Tuolumne Air Quality Management Districts, Great Basin, Imperial, Lassen, Santa Barbara and Mojave Desert Air Pollution Control Districts. The fees are used to support the program work by the ARB and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The state's remaining air pollution control districts operate their own programs and set fees to run those local programs according to guidelines set by the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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